Thursday, April 5. 2012
From the lead article in the Wichita Eagle today, titled "Five Days with No Courts":
It's impossible to overstate what an embarrassment the Kansas state legislature has been since the 2010 elections. While neglecting to keep the state government in decent running order, they've passed laws to restrict voting rights and to make abortions even more costly and more inaccessible. They've killed off state funding for the arts, thereby sacrificing federal funding, but the state has wound up spending close to $500,000 in court trying to defend the constitutionality of their new anti-abortion laws. They still haven't managed to pass a law with new congressional districts: one idiot plan that some keep pushing is to attach heavily-Democrat Wyandotte county (Kansas City, KS) to the sparsely populated far West district that gave a rookie Republican extremist a 72% vote in 2010.
The post-2010 legislature isn't much different than the ones that preceded it -- both were overwhelmingly Republican. The difference is that after 16 years of moderate Republican and/or Democratic governors (Graves, Sibelius, Parkinson), which limited the damage the increasingly right-wing legislators could do, the new guy in the mansion is Sam Brownback. You may recall that Brownback ran for president in 2008 -- miserably, I might add. Now, his ambitions are undiminished, and he's trying to rack up a record as a man of action with his social engineering programs.
But the legislature hasn't bowed down to Brownback. They've actively connived to make his proposals even worse then he intended. For example, Brownback's income tax plan proposed to exempt the Kochs and Ruffins from paying state income taxes, while ending the Earned Income Credit for the poor and gutting deductions for the middle class. The lege -- I might as well start using Molly Ivins's Texas nomenclature since it's equally applicable here -- kept the worst ideas but turned it into a budget-busting monstrosity. It's still up in the air, but the relatively small matter of shutting down the court system is but a taste of what the lege is promising.
It's hard not to think that the end if the Republicans go unchecked in Kansas is a wasteland. Sometimes they do it on purpose. Sometimes they just screw up.
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